You know how old fogies like to bang on about how games today are too easy and that it was actually more fun when you had to re-load 30 minutes of tape whenever you died?
They’re wrong: it was crap.
Taken as a piece of gaming history, this re-mastered 20th anniversary edition of the brilliantly evocative cinematic puzzle/action/adventure hybrid Another World is a retro gamer’s dream come true, with tasteful additions and controls that fit the original perfectly.
But, sadly, the game itself has not aged well.
Come with us on a journey
You play Professor Lester Knight Chaykin, a man flung into - yes - another world when an experiment goes wrong (by means of an electrical storm).
With no real explanation as to where you are or what you have to do, Another World throws screen after screen of one-touch deaths at you in various guises, and asks you to work it out your damn self.
Much like the cinematic games of the '80s like Dragon’s Lair, and the FMV invasion of the '90s, this effectively means following what the designer wants you to do to the letter.
Fancy running over there? Insta-death from an off-screen enemy! Trying to access this screen before you’ve backtracked five minutes to shoot a section of wall that’s slightly different from the rest?
Well, you get the picture
Touch to die
Unlike other examples of trial-and-error games, you have quite a bit of control over poor Lester, with running, jumping, and firing (or kicking in certain parts) all controlled either through a touch interface or via a customisable virtual pad.
Both methods work surprisingly well once you realise the original game’s controls were a bit sticky in the first place.
However, those more accustomed to agile protagonists that can leap buildings - or at least respond to commands within a second - will find Lester’s geriatric shambling a chore.
Other new additions are a little more welcome. The way you can switch between the original graphics and the remastered edition by sweeping two fingers down is elegantly employed, while the ability to select between Normal and Hardcore difficulty, which subtly changes sections’ timings or adds an additional obstacle, helps ease the pain at times.
Repent for your sins
But while the cinematic style and smooth polygon animations were absolutely mind-blowing back in 1991, seen through modern eyes they do little to hide what is essentially an exercise in frustration.
Almost every cardinal sin of game design is committed at some point during the game, whether it's death without warning, poor signposting, overly-long backtracking, rubbish checkpointing, or just ridiculous difficulty spikes designed to infuriate the player.
That may have been fine when the reward for this torture was another beautiful screen, but, as opposed to Dragon’s Lair’s fantastic Don Bluth cartoons, Another World’s graphics just don’t have the effect they once did, HD or otherwise.
So while it may have felt like it came from another world back at launch, now Another World feels only like it belongs to another time.
iOS version reviewed.
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